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CAPE CANAVERAL – Weather delayed the launch of the second of the United States Air Force’s Orbital Test Vehicles (OTV). The X-37B, as it is more commonly known, sate encapsulated within its fairing on top of the Atlas V 501 launch vehicle at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS).
It appeared that the launch might occur at the first launch window, which opened at 3:50 p.m. EDT. However high-level ground winds forced a delay. The second launch window was for 5:27 p.m. EDT, but by this time the winds had increased, Cumulous Clouds had moved into the area – bringing heavy rains in with them, forcing a scrub for the day. The plans are now for a 24-hour recycle of the launch, however tomorrow does not look much better with similar weather threatening the launch.
The first OTV, USA-212 lifted off from the exact same launch pad on 22 April 2010 and returned to Earth on Dec. 3, 2010. The return to earth tested out the space planes heat shield as well as the vehicle’s hypersonic aerodynamic aspects. The space plane is small enough to be carried within the U.S. space shuttle’s payload bay, it landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.